Category Archives: Grief

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Summer Picture Book Picks 2018 (Part 2) Family, Friendship, and Inclusion

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Well my intention of blogging more this summer has certainly not unfolded as planned!  But I have discovered I have only two speeds – Fast Forward and STOP!  And when I stop – I literally get nothing done!  But I’m enjoying the lazy (hot) days of summer immensely!  Here is my “Part 2” of some my favorite summer picture books.  This week I’m featuring books that focus on Family, Friendship and Inclusion – all themes and lessons you will find in my new book Powerful Understanding.  Enjoy and happy reading!

Drawn Together (Hyperion Picture Book (eBook)) by [Lê, Minh]

Drawn Together – Minh Le

Beautifully touching story celebrating the power of unspoken language and bridging the gap between ages, languages, and cultures.  A young boy and his aging grandfather can’t communicate due to a language barrier but eventually find a new way to communicate through drawing together.   Lots of connections here.  Stunning story… stunning illustrations.  I see award nominations coming for this one.

Islandborn – Junot Diaz

“Just because you don’t remember a place doesn’t mean it’s not in you.”  A perfect book for exploring immigration, community, family, traditions and culture.  WOW!  Great book for sharing and making connections to family origins.  Bright, bursting illustrations.  LOVE!

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Who named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family?  These are questions I love to ask my students as we explore identity  (and the first lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) Alma has six names – each one connected to people in her family.   A perfect anchor for a lesson on exploring our names!

Funeral – Matt James

I love books that invite questions from the cover… “What’s a funeral?” …“Who died?”…  “Why do the kids look so happy when the book is called The Funeral?”  “Why are the letters in the title in different colors?”   A refreshing look at a “FUN-eral” of a beloved uncle – celebrating life rather than mourning death.  It’s simple, honest and affirming.   This one grew on me.

FRIENDSHIP

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Little Robot Alone – Patricia Maclachlan

Can’t ever miss reading a book by the great Patrica Maclachlan…  Little Robot Alone is a lovely story about a Robot who decides to use his creativity to make himself a friend – a robot dog!  Repetitive segments and sing-song elements make this a charming read-a-loud for Pre-K-Gr. 1.  Would be a great anchor for inviting students to create their own “friend”.   (Would also be a great anchor for my MMT school project – based on The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.  See my blog post here.)

Hoot and Olive:  Brave Enough for Two – Jonathan D. Voss

Mix a little Goodnight Moon, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Night Gardner…. and you have this delightful story of two inseparable friends – a little girl and her stuffed Owl. Gorgeous, whimsical watercolor illustrations.  A tale of bravery, adventure and hope.  Love this one.  (I know I say that a lot but I really did love this one!)

Rescue and Jessica – A Life-Changing Friendship – Jessica Kensky

Written by two of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, this picture book is the true story of one of them and their service dog, Rescue.  But it is really the story about overcoming life’s challenges and the hope we find during times of overwhelming adversity.  I love the parallel stories of both Rescue, a dog that thought he would grow up to be a seeing eye dog, but life had a different responsibility for him and Jessica, a young girl whose life also turned out differently than she imagined. Together they rescue each other.

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We Don’t Eat our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins

Oh my goodness – SUCH a funny book!   Yes, there will be many “back to school” books being released this month… but this is definitely the one I recommend.  So fresh and funny, but teaches empathy so beautifully.  A perfect read-aloud or gift for that young one who might be experiencing “back to school jitters”

                                                       How to Be a Lion – Ed Vere

Melt my heart.  I love this book.  SO simple yet such an important message:  there is more than one way to do something. Or be something.   Leonard is not your typical lion. Leonard is not fierce but enjoys the great outdoors and loves words.  He befriends Marianne, a poetic duck and, together, they compose poems.  When other lions hear about unconventional Leonard – they confront the pair.  A unique and beautiful story about celebrating individuality and diversity; for standing up for your gentle self and befriending who you want.  This is a great book for building classroom community.

                                               Niblet & Ralph –  Zachariah OHora

Two look-alike pet cats switch places in this humorous, sweet story of mistaken identity.  A little like “The Parent Trap” for cats!  Love the retro illustrations.  I like how, while the cats look alike, their owners slowly discover their differences.  Very sweet story.

Friendship is Like a Seesaw – Shona Innes

Great rhyming read-aloud for your younger students.  Sweet illustrations and gentle text explores friends at their best–sharing, laughing, and playing together–as well as friends who sometimes say hurtful things, leave others out, or get a bit bossy.  I love how the story introduces specific “friendship fix” strategies (another lesson in my Powerful Understanding book!) like talking about our feelings, looking at our own friendship skills, or taking a break.  A great anchor book for talking about the ups and downs of friendships!  

INCLUSION 

All Are Welcome – Alexandra Penfold

Oh my.   This book.  It’s a must read for every teacher to share in the first days or week of school.  A wonderful, welcoming picture book that celebrates diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance, and celebration of all cultures in a school community.   I hope this book ends up in EVERY library in EVERY school EVERYWHERE!

The Outlaw Nancy Vo

Wow.  This book is powerful, so powerful.  Set in the old west, it tells the story of an Outlaw who, after many years of terrorizing a town, disappears.  When he returns, years later, he must begin the long process of making amends.   While not really about inclusion, it is a story about forgiveness, acceptance and second chances.  Simple text but this is definitely going to be added to my list of Inferring books for intermediate students. Would make a great book to spark conversations about forgiveness.   Love the “old west” feel to the mixed-media illustrations.

We are All Dots:  A Big Plan for a Better World –  Giancarlo Macrì

If you attended any of my workshops this past spring, you will have heard me going on and on about this amazing, powerful picture book that introduces, in simple format, many important social issues.  Intended for an older audience, this book would stimulate great discussions about equality and diversity with older students.   SO many inferences can be made from the many different dot images.  This is one of my favorite books of 2018.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book or two that caught your eye!

 

 

 

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Diversity, Family, Friendship, Grief, Identity, immigration, IMWAYR, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, making connections, New Books

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?Summer 2018 Picture Books – Part 1: Understanding Identity and Feelings

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Yes, I know…it’s actually Tuesday!  But it’s summer and it feels like Monday!  Ahhh…. summer!  A time to rest, rejuvenate, re-connect, and reflect!  And while some may be binge-watching a few Netflicks series, I will have my head buried in a pile of new picture books!   There are so many I want to share so I have tried to “group” them into themes.  This week, I am featuring picture books that would work very well with lessons from my new book Powerful Understanding – understanding identity and emotions.  These would also be excellent anchor books for making connections.

One Of A Kind by Chris Gorman

One of a Kind – Chris Gorman

Celebrating all that makes you unique, of being oneself and how finding “your people” – a tribe of your own kind – can lead to something special.  Upbeat, rhythmic text and gorgeous illustrations.  I liked the stark black and white line drawing illustrations with bright yellow and pink highlighting the words.  I would use this book to spark a conversation about “unique” qualities:  What are the traits that make you unique? What unique trait are you most proud of?   What are the common traits do you and your friends share?

Alma and How She Got Her Name – Juana Martinez-Neal

Exploring identity is one of the focuses in my new book.  In one of the lessons, I encourage students to discover the story of their nameWho named you?  What does your name mean?  What connection does your name have to your family or culture?  So of course I was VERY excited to read this delightful anchor book about a little girl learning the meaning behind her six names:  Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.”  And so begins this poignant, powerful story by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson (Each Kindness, The Other Side, Brown Girl Dreaming).  If there is only ONE book you read this summer – this is it.  This is a must-own book for teachers,  librarians, and parents, and a must-share for all kids, no matter their ages.  I am absolutely in love with this story of pride in self, fear of not fitting in, and ultimately belonging.   A PERFECT book for sharing at the beginning of the school year to help build a welcoming community in your classroom and a perfect reminder that we are more alike than different.  My favorite book of 2018 so far!

Moon – Alison Oliver

A young girl who is overwhelmed by her daily “To Do” checklist learns how to embrace her inner wild child after meeting a wolfy friend one night.  A great message for us all to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of our lives,  get out, and enjoy play time in nature.  The illustrations are beautiful, with lovely hues of “night” colors and great expressions.

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur Greg Pizzoli

Very cute, unique interactive picture book that encourages readers to coax a very shy brontosaurus out from its hiding place.  I could see this as a great read-aloud in a Pre K or K class as the story invites readers to greet and speak softly to Crunch as well as introduce themselves to him.  Also a great book for providing calmness.

I’m Sad – Michael Ian Black

A simple, honest story about feeling sad. Every child needs to know that emotions don’t last and that it’s okay to let ourselves be sad sometimes without feeling the need to constantly put on a happy face for everyone.  Michael Ian Black and Debbi Ohi do an excellent job portraying that in this book.  I loved their first book I’m Bored and, while this one may not be as humorous, I think I liked it even more.

I Hate Everyone! Naomi Davis

Another great read-aloud for primary students.  A heartwarming story of a young girl who is overwhelmed with confusing emotions on her birthday.   Great for making connections and inferring that “I hate you” often really means “I need you.”   A wonderful “connect” book with such an accurate depiction of different emotions.  Great artwork.

Small Things – Mel Tregonning

Exceptionally-powerful, heart-breaking wordless picture book/graphic novel depicting childhood anxiety and worries.  Reading this book is an emotional experience, and one that would spark a lot of discussions, connections and inferences.  Beautiful, haunting and the back story to this book will break your heart.

The Rabbit Listened – Cori Doerrfeld

Get your Kleenex ready.  With spare, poignant text and adorable illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender and deeply moving exploration of grief and empathy for very young children.  Simple message that sometimes what we need most is  a quiet, thoughtful listener. SO much to love about this book.  I especially liked that Taylor’s gender is never mentioned or indicated by the illustrations.

Grumpy Monkey – Suzanne Lang

Everyone has their grumpy days, and you know what? A grumpy day now and then is absolutely okay.  Picture books are deceiving. They hide big stories within their little bindings.  This is a story we all need to hear: it’s okay to feel your feelings, own them, lean into them as long as you don’t hurt others in the process.  Great read-aloud for a primary classroom – funny, silly and important all mixed together.

Whale in a Fishbowl Troy Howell, Richard Jones

While on the surface, this is a gentle story of Wednesday – a whale who lives in a giant fishbowl in the middle of the city but yearns for a life beyond her bowl.  But metaphorically, it is a universal story of belonging, about possibilities, and finding one’s perfect place.  Stunning illustrations.   This could be read to a primary class to discuss animals in captivity, or with older students to practice inferring.

Ocean Meets Sky – The Fan Brothers

I am a huge fan of this bother author-illustrator team.  I loved The Night Gardner and this new release is equally as whimsical and stunning.  While an imaginative journey of sorts, I included it here because of the emotional, dream-like journey that young Finn embarks on as a way of remembering his grandfather, who has recently passed away.  I love stories with multiple layers – kids will most likely see it as a story about adventure, and adults will recognize it as a story about loss, grief, and remembering.  Stunning.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hoping a title (or more) has caught your eye!  Next week, I will be focusing on new picture book about friendship and inclusion!

Have a great reading week, everyone!

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Filed under 2018 releases, Connect, Feelings, Grief, Identity, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Powerful Understanding

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Immigration, Autumn, Spiders and a Jellyfish!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

It’s been a busy start to the school year – with school and workshops!  But there is always time for new books!  Here are a few of my latest discoveries…

I’m New Here – Anne Sibley O’Brien

The school where I teach is made up of over 30 different cultures so this book is a must have “connect” book for our library!  We follow three immigrant children as they face the challenges of adapting to their new school and community while trying to maintain their  language, identity and sense of “home”.  Thoughtful, heartfelt and realistic with simple text and colorful illustrations. 

P’esk’a and the Salmon Ceremony – Scot Ritchie

With First Peoples being an important and integral part of BC’s new Education Plan, I’m on the look-out for authentic picture books to support the curriculum. P’esk’a is excited to celebrate the first day of the salmon ceremony, a custom of the Sts’ailes people, who have lived on the Harrison River in BC for 10,000 years. This celebration includes honoring and giving thanks to the river and the salmon.  This book includes an illustrated afterward, glossary and an introductory letter from Chief William Charlie.

My Leaf Book – Monica Wellington

Fall is my favorite season – changing leaves, apples, crisp mornings!  Last fall, I did a post of my favorite fall books.  (You can read that post HERE)  This new book is definitely be one I’ll add to my list!  This charming book follows a little girl as she hunts for fall leaves to press into her book.   An interesting look at different sizes, shapes, colors and patters of different leaves.  Simple text, bold, colorful illustrations and includes lessons on leaf rubbing and leaf art.

My Autumn Book – Wong Herbert Yee

It’s finally here!  I’ve been waiting for the final addition of Fall to Wong Herbert Yee’s adorable season collection!  (Other books include:  Tracks in the Snow, Summer Days and Nights, and Who Likes Rain? A little girl explores the outdoors and observes the gentle signs of the changing of the seasons and the arrival of fall. Soft, watercolor illustrations and lovely, simple text.  LOVE!

How to Be A Dog – Jo Williamson

Heart-warming and humourous “how to be”  book written from a dog’s perspective.  From choosing the right “owner” to learning where you should sleep, this book is delightful!  I would definitely use this as an anchor for a creative instructional writing piece.

I’m Trying To Love Spiders!  – Bethany Bartum

This humourous, creative non-fiction would make a great read-aloud!  It’s filled with interesting facts but written in a playful tone.  Great art! 

The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilience – Jill Neimark

Wow. This is a powerful story that I can see being used at many levels.  It is the story of a tree, growing alone on a cliff.  The tree is faced with many challenges including thunder storms, freezing winters and vast, crashing waves, but the kindness and compassion of one little boy and protected by the natural world, the tree grows and eventually becomes a shelter for others.  The entire story could be seen as a metaphor for the hope and resilience we can show when faced with life’s struggles.  A great book for inferring and transform!

The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin  (FREE Kindle PREVIEW of Chapter 1-11)

This book made my heart ache and my eyes sting. In fact, I think it should come with a box of Kleenex. Suzy is a smart, “different” grade 7 student who is dealing with the drowning death of her best and only friend, Franny.  As the story progresses, we learn the depth of Suzy’s grief: the end of her only friendship; her guilt for not being there; the terrible last conversation she had with Franny; – all too much for a young soul to carry.  Through her grief, she searches to find the reason why her friend drowned and becomes convinced that a jellyfish must have been the cause.  She stops speaking and becomes obsessed with jellyfish. This book is so, so beautiful, so emotional, so sad – at times, I had to stop reading it. I’m not sure how – but the weaving of jellyfish facts through Suzy’s sadness works seamlessly. I thought Fish in a Tree was my favorite novel of the year for middle grades – until I read this book.

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book or books have caught your eye!

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Filed under dogs, Fall, Grief, immigration, instructions, jellyfish, New Books, Novels, Picture Book, Seasons

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Books For Grieving and Healing

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

A very good friend of mine is a principal in a neighbouring school district.  On Thursday, she learned that a grade 3 student in her school died under horrific and tragic circumstances.   The school, staff, parents and students are, as you can imagine, in shock and disbelief.  My friend has the enormous task of trying to support her school community while she, too, is grieving the loss of this dear little girl.  She stopped by my house on Friday and asked if I could recommend any picture books that she might be able to take to school on Monday to read to classes; books that might help them understand and deal with this sudden loss.  A beautiful reminder that in times when we may be at a loss for just the right words, we turn to children’s books to find strength and guidance.

In honor of the students, staff and parents at Rosemary Heights Elementary School in Surrey – here are some books that I hope will bring you some comfort during this difficult time:

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The Memory String – Eve Bunting

A young girl deals with the loss of her mother.  Holding on to memories of a lost loved one through buttons on a “memory string” and learning to create new ones.

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The Memory Tree – Britta Teckentrup

When Fox dies, his animal friends gather to share the memories of their friend.  A beautiful and heartfelt story about the death of a loved one and the memories that comfort those left behind.

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Always and Forever – Alan Durant

This book gives a heart-warming account of how we deal with bereavement and come to terms with the loss of somebody close to us. Beautiful illustrations and tender story of forest animals who are dealing with the loss of one of their close friend. 

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Water Bugs and Dragon Flies: Explaining Death to Young Children – Doris Stickley

In a simple, meaningful way, Doris Stickley uses an adapted fable about the waterbug that changes into a dragonfly to explain the death of a friend to neighbourhood children.  Some spiritual context is implied and while it does not focus on any particular religion, I found it particularly comforting. 

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The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic

This book  tells the story of a young boy trying to grieve, adapt, and accept the death of his mother. Told with such straight forward, simple gestures and emotion from anger to tears, this book will make your heart ache.  Powerful and emotional but a very good book to spark discussion and promote hope and healing.

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The Tenth Good Thing About Barney – Judith Viorst

This book is about the loss of a pet but I like how sensitively the book touches on expressing feelings about a loss (both sadness and good memories.) It does touch on the idea of Heaven, but does so in a neutral way.

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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book  – Michael Rosen

This wonderful book, illustrated by Quentin Blake, describes Michael Rosen’s grief at the death of his son.  It vividly describes the ever-changing fluidity of grief – the sudden and unexpected moments of happiness, then anger, then resentment.  Knowing that there different ways of being sad is an important message to share with people who are affected by a death or a loss. 

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My Father’s Arms are Like a Boat – Stein Erik Lunde

Haunting, beautiful story of a child and father’s sadness over the death of the mother.  Soft illustrations and poetic, subtle word choice – this story is achingly beautiful.

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The Fall of Freddie the Leaf – Leo Buscaglia

This book makes me cry but in a good way. It is an excellent choice when teaching children about the end of life for someone they love. It makes death a natural celebration of peace after a struggle to hang on to something that is no longer important. It speaks of a higher purpose in the circle of all things. 

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The Heart and the Bottle – Oliver Jeffers

This simple story tells of a young girl who “locks her heart away” after her grandfather dies, protecting it from feeling pain.   Wonderful, simple message about how to open up your heart after a loss and begin to love and feel again.  Beautiful message of hope and love. 

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Badger’s Parting Gifts – Susan Varley

This is a heart warming story that introduces grief, loss and the subject of death in a gentle way.  I like that the friends are so very sad when their friend dies, but by sharing happy memories of their friend together, it helps them deal with their sadness.

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I’ll Always Love You – Hans Wilhelm

This is a heart-aching story of a child dealing with the loss of the family dog.  Beautifully written and lovely illustrations.  Sad but helpful and hopeful in the end.

Thanks for stopping by.  I do recommend you read through these any of these books before sharing them with children as some of them may not be appropriate or fit your own beliefs.  I would love suggestions of books you have shared with students who may have experienced loss of a loved one.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the school community of Rosemary Heights Elementary as they deal with this loss.

 

 

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Filed under Grief, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?